The Future Is A Confidence Trick

Prediction is an industry, and its product is a persuasive set of hopes and fears that we’re trained or convinced to agree upon.  It’s a confidence trick.  And its product comes so thick and fast that, like a plothole in an action movie, we’re carried on past the obvious failures and the things that didn’t even make sense if we had more than five seconds to think about them.  Videophones.  We were told again and again that videophones were not only imminent, but that they made so much sense that they might as well already be here, they fit so well into our lives.  Only nobody wanted to have to get dressed to answer the house phone.  Or put make-up on, or shave.  Videophones hit the social fabric and bounced off, and when video calls finally arrived, they were mostly relegated to business usage and long-distance relationship maintenance by appointment.  The basic unit of communication has become, not video calls or even voice calls, but text messages.


Who saw that coming?  The return of the telegram?  Pretty much nobody.  The industry of futurism is bad at the future.


Reading: LANDMARKS, Robert Macfarlane: (UK) (US)